|The question to you -- are
you going to use it? Will you have places to wirelessly connect with?
Remember, when you have a wireless laptop, it has to connect to a hub or
Wi-Fi (like Starbucks or a cell phone). Some hotels are starting to set
up wireless and others requiring plugging in. If you buy a laptop
without wireless and change your mind, you can add it later with a card.
Only difference is it won't be built-in. Not a big deal. Mine is not
FYI: Most laptops come with a 10/100 Ethernet NIC built-in.
For me, I have a cheap dial-up account with a national service. Good
thing because I used it in the hospital. Not every place has wireless or
free wireless (Starbucks isn't free, or at least, not all locations from
what I understand). So before I travel, I look up the service's local
numbers of where I am going so I'll have them.
As for what model -- you'll get different answers from
everyone. People love and hate Dells. Love and hate IBMs. What makes
Dell different is that you can pick and choose what items you want on
your laptop. IBM has a good reputation. Of course, Macs are nice, if you
want to go the Apple way. Buying a refurbished laptop is cool. We have
two of them in our house and we're happy with 'em. Saved a bit of money,
Screen. Picking the right screen is based on graphical need. I
got a nice wide one, but my laptop be heavy, dude. I don't travel much,
so weight isn't an issue. When I do travel, the weight of the laptop
isn't a big deal because I benefit from the video memory more than the
The video card is built into the motherboard, just like a lot of
desktops. What you have to watch with a laptop is make sure you get the
video you want. If you are going to use graphic intensive programs, then
go for more video memory. In the past laptops were not geared toward
graphic intense applications. Then the DVD came along and changed that.
A screen is not as replaceable to interchangeable like a harddrive, a
wireless card, or a DVD drive. I invest more in the screen so it lasts
longer since everything else can be upgraded or replaced.
How often do you plan to lug it around? Believe me. No matter how
light the laptop feels, it's a bag of bricks when you've walked with it
all day at a conference. That's why I have a backpack case for my
laptop. Much easier for long treks with the laptop. So weight
didn't get a priority with me.
A laptop is useless without an operating system and software.
Before we get into details. There is a snag. If you are buying from a
major reseller (IBM, Dell, HP, Compaq, etc.) It is going to come with an
operating system, whether you like it or not. This is due to their
licencing agreements with Microsoft. If this is not an issue, here are
Do you want it to come with it or do you have licensed software you
can load on it? When buying a computer with the operating system and
bonus software, remember you don't get books or separate CDs loaded with
the applications. Some companies provide CDs for using when you have to
reformat a computer and these programs will load back up. Some people
don't like this and prefer to buy the applications separately.
This is a suggested process for shopping for a laptop:
- Decide what you must have and write those down.
- Search for products that have these things.
- Search for and read reviews on the finalists.
- Narrow down the list as much as possible (one to three items) to
the ones you will be happy with buying.
- Comparison shop for the best offer.